Italian Style Mozzarella Sausage with Creamy Polenta


Many Italian dishes are based on simple recipes made with inexpensive ingredients that were served to hungry peasant families. Often the recipes relied on ample carbohydrates, which were both filling and cheap. Best known are the many different pastas, but rice and cornmeal were also popular for large families.

Share This Recipe:


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped carrot
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons 14.5-oz cans chopped tomatoes with juices (I use Muir Glen), or 3 cups chopped peeled, and seeded vine ripened tomatoes plus an additional ½ cup wine
3 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups water
2 cups whole milk
1 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


  1. To make the tomato sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausage slices and cook until browned, about 5 minutes on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sauce to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, onion and carrot to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until the vegetables soften, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Pour in the wine and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Boil until the liquid is syrupy and reduced by about ⅔, about 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cook until the tomatoes begin to soften and the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan and add 1 tablespoon of the basil (save the remainder for garnish). Simmer 10 minutes to blend the flavors, thinning with water if the sauce becomes thicker than a pasta sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  2. Meanwhile, prepare the polenta: Combine the water, milk and 1¼ teaspoons salt in a heavy large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the polenta in a slow stream, stirring constantly. Adjust the heat so the polenta boils slowly. Cook until all the liquid is absorbed and the polenta is smooth, creamy and thick, stirring occasionally, 30 to 45 minutes. Cook's Notes: Polenta is done when texture is creamy and the individual grains are tender. Polenta will thicken as it sits.

  3. Spoon the polenta into a large shallow bowl. Spoon the sausage and tomato sauce over. Sprinkle with the cheese and remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve. Serves 4.